Vanguard reports that Prof. Cleopas Angaye, Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency ( NITDA) has said that the Nigerian software industry has potentials worth $6bn (N900 billion).
“The Nigerian software industry is potentially a six-billion-dollars industry and can surpass the contributions from the oil industry, especially as the software industry is not a capital intensive sector.
“In addition, the internet has created a level playing field for software developers all around the world; proximity and flexibility would, therefore, favour our indigenous developers for local, regional and international markets.
“The foregoing, therefore, lay credence to the fact that there is an urgent need to develop appropriate policy to guide software Nigeria,” he said.
The statement made by the DG is not wrong. There is no ceiling on what the technology capacity of any nation can be. $6b is not really a big number for a nation like Nigeria considering that we are about 1/5th of Africa’s population. Some of the iconic software companies make that every quarter and to argue that software industry of the biggest black nation should be less than a quarter revenue of big US software company is not wise.
The main challenge for NITDA and the professor is to make the realization come through. The country is not working hard enough. The government is not even supporting the local software makers. The legal frameworks that will sustain the sofTware industry remains very weak. So, how can the nation make that happen.
Tekedia thinks that the country must evolve beyond making commentaries to actually doing things. We need to have a strategic plan to make Nigeria to progress in sync. Lagos gets it, Maiduguri is far behind. Owerri gets it, Opopo may not. There are huge disparities in the ways governments executes our strategies.
This is what we recommend
Government must introduce a true and visible local content requirement in the banking industry. They remain the biggest consumer of software in the nation. What the banks spend on software accounts for more than 87% of the total software bill in the nation. To avoid any shock, a five year window can be put in place to make sure than all software used in the banking industry is made in Nigeria.
If Oracle, Sybase, Microsoft and others must sell to our banks, they must be required to make those software in the nation or at least have a creative lab built in the country. That way the assessment that the DG made could hold water.
As Nigeria hovers above the $250b GDP, a $6b value of the software industry is too low. That means, it is less than 3% of the GDP. We need to jack it up to 6% in the next five years. That way we can begin the discussion that we are diversifying away from the minerals. Right now, it may not even be up to 0.2% of the GDP.